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Switching defences/openings constantly: anyone else have this problem?


  • 12 months ago · Quote · #1

    BigTy

    Hey,

    So, in the 5+ years I have been playing/studying chess, I have switched defences many times with the Black pieces -- especially against 1.e4! I never seem to be satisfied with any of them, at least not for very long. As a result, I have learned to play a large variety of different position types, but cannot say I know the theory especially deeply for any single variation! Furthermore, I think my study time could be used better elsewhere, but somehow I keep coming back to openings -- often switching/cycling between 3 or 4 defences I have played in the past, depending on where my interests lie at the moment. This is not as much of a problem against 1.d4, but even there I have switched between several different systems since I began playing! And I usually play 2 different defences against 1.e4 and 1.d4 at any given time for the sake of variety!

    Fortunately, with the White pieces this is not such a problem. I switched from 1.e4 to 1.d4 a couple years ago and have no intention of going back! I do make some minor changes within the repertoire, but the core of it essentially stays the same -- and I have little to complain about, it seems (I guess that is the advantage of having the White pieces in chess -- fewer problem lines).

    Nonetheless, I am always blown away when I hear of players developing "a lifetime repertoire" and playing the same set of openings with no changes for like 30+ years -- though in a way I am jealous and wish that I could commit to something like that! Maybe with the White pieces I can...

    This fascination/preoccupation seems to be a disease that has inflicted quite a few club players, from what I have heard/read. Do any of you have it? I certainly do. I know at the end of the day my opening choice won't drastically change my results at my current level, yet something keeps me switching my defences to 1.e4 over and over again (maybe I miss playing against these systems with White?).

    How should one treat this illness?

    Thoughts?

  • 12 months ago · Quote · #2

    hicetnunc

    It's very common. For some people, it's not even a problem.

    Do you feel like it affects your OTB results ?

  • 12 months ago · Quote · #3

    Scottrf

    No, I blame my chess, not my openings for my results.

  • 12 months ago · Quote · #4

    ajttja

    i have this problem also, i would recomend to just study one opening a lot and keep studying it even if you don't like it.

  • 12 months ago · Quote · #5

    TitanCG

    A lifetime repertoire I think makes anyone's game stale... Unless someone is already a master with little to learn I don't see a good reason to not play different things every now and then. But maybe you should focus more on middlegames and endgames for a while so you can refine your play and make opening choices easier.

  • 12 months ago · Quote · #6

    BigTy

    hicetnunc wrote:

    It's very common. For some people, it's not even a problem.

    Do you feel like it affects your OTB results ?

    Well, OTB unfortunately I am the top player where I live (small community) and since no one else really studies theory, I can basically play whatever I want and still win most of the time. Thus, most of my training games are online (live chess -- standard and blitz) and while I don't think it has hurt my game there, I think that the time spent learning and relearning all of these lines could be put to use elsewhere (middlegames, tactics, whatever -- even my White repertoire, where I am really unprepared for some of Black's responses ATM).

    While it is fun to play a wide variety of positions, I would like to be more consistent so that when I do start playing in rated tournaments, in larger centers, where people know their stuff, I will stand a good chance of getting a good middlegame, or at least a playable one!

    The problem is I seem to quickly tire of one opening and then switch to another! By default, I think I will try to gravitate back to 1...e5 as my main defence because it is a no-nonsense, principled way to play, and leads to a wide variety of positions/structures which make it perhaps less likely to go stale when compared to say, the French or Caro (stuff I have been playing recently but am tiring of). But, then I think of the downsides to 1...e5, such as the potential symmetry, drawing lines against weaker players, etc., and suddenly I want to have another defence as back-up! So then the French (or whatever) stays as back-up, until I find a reason not to play it anymore, and on and on it goes haha...

    And Scottrf, I don't blame my openings for my results either. I just seem to tire of the positions quickly for some reason (perhaps cutting out those useless blitz games will help with that).

  • 12 months ago · Quote · #7

    dzikus

    At the beginning I also made this kind of research (I would not call it a problem, rather a method of discovering and learning various aspects of chess).

    Trying different openings let me handle many types of middlegame, improved my overall chess understanding. Since I never had a coach I had to "learn myself" to find the best openings which suite my style of playing.

    I guess you might be more a positional player since you cannot decide what to play against 1.e4. I went the opposite way, sticking to 2-3 defences against 1.e4 from the very beginning and frequently changing closed openings.

    I searched actively for "my" openings to the level of 1800, then stopped for a longer reflection and analysis. First, I switched from 1.d4 to 1.e4 which worked really well as I started scoring much better with white. With black I finally chose one opening against 1.e4 and one against 1.d4/c4/Nf3. I have sticked to my choice since 2004 and never change openings in long games.

    My initial research has not wasted, though. I can manage transpositions easily and play lines which I feel good in. Also I can choose nearly everything in blitz which frequently works as a surprise if the opponent knows me and is aware of my constant repertoire in long games.

    As the previous posters mentioned, it is not openings to be blamed but our handling of them. We have poor results if we try to play something not matching with our style and preferences.

    Yet I think it is very good to try as much as possible. Broad teoretical knowledge is precious, it helps solve openings problems by using analogy and methods known from other lines

  • 12 months ago · Quote · #8

    Marcus-101

    I also have this 'problem'. By the time I learn an opening thoroughly I want to change it because I get bored. Then someone advises me to try something else so I try that. But then see a really nice game with a different opening which I could give a try. But then I get bored of that opening so I get caught in a cycle that is impossible to break until I simply descend down to nothing!! Okay, slight exaggeration, but still..

  • 12 months ago · Quote · #9

    chessman1504

    Me.

  • 12 months ago · Quote · #10

    kikvors

    For me, the cure was to start to vary within the opening itself. So instead of switching from 1.e4 c5 to 1.e4 e5 to 1.e4 d6 to..., at first I switched between different variations of the Sicilian (but only ones that started 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6) and nowadays the variations I switch between branch at around move 7 in one of them. All the sidelines are not that interesting so I don't feel an urge to constantly switch around my response to, say, 2.c3.

  • 12 months ago · Quote · #11

    hicetnunc

    kikvor's solution is probably the best, but anyway, as long as you haven't felt the impact of this habit in your OTB play, I wouldn't worry that much about it.

    Some very good players don't have a stable repertoire. It does have some advantages (escape preparation, proficient in more positions, freshness...)

  • 12 months ago · Quote · #12

    ivandh

    Scottrf a écrit :

    No, I blame my chess, not my openings for my results.

  • 12 months ago · Quote · #13

    Hilarious3

    A patzer's perspective: I have recently discovered that I need to pay attention to my energy levels when choosing openings for club games. When I'm well rested and raring to play I go for e4, the kings gambit, the Keres attack etc with white, but when I'm tired or less confident I play the English or d4 with a slow and solid setup. Same thing with black: I play for a win with the French and a draw with the Caro-Kann. This discovery was prompted by reading in a collection of Petrosian's games that when you're tired, your tactical vision is what suffers most.

    Your problem is probably an asset! Why not only play what strikes your fancy and try to discover as many viable setups and plans as possible....variety is the spice of life!

  • 12 months ago · Quote · #14

    jingylima

    Try the Scholar's mate?

    I did well with it once upon a time......

  • 12 months ago · Quote · #15

    AssauIt

    I had this problem for quite a while.
    It wasn't that I was looking for the 'holy grail' or 'silver bullet'. I would simply see a game or a book with a certain variation which looked very interesting.
    It was always fun to try new things and weigh up their pros and cons.
    Im fairly certain by now I've tried all the main d4 defences and the majority of the main e4 defences and have managed to settle on a fairly narrow repertoire.

  • 12 months ago · Quote · #16

    BigTy

    kikvors wrote:

    For me, the cure was to start to vary within the opening itself. So instead of switching from 1.e4 c5 to 1.e4 e5 to 1.e4 d6 to..., at first I switched between different variations of the Sicilian (but only ones that started 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6) and nowadays the variations I switch between branch at around move 7 in one of them. All the sidelines are not that interesting so I don't feel an urge to constantly switch around my response to, say, 2.c3.

    I have done this before with some openings as well, such as the French Winawer and the mainlines of the Najdorf. Like you say, it is nice not having to change your responses to White's sidelines/inferior lines once you have found good ones! But still, some openings such as the French lead to very similar structures/themes in many games/variations, so I often feel the need to just play something completely different, rather than mix up a few lines within an opening!

    @hicetnunc -- I agree, that is probably the best approach. If only I could narrow my choices to two openings for Black against 1.e4 instead of cycling a handful of them! But like you say, my way keeps chess rather fresh...

    @ Assault -- Yeah I am not looking for a magic solution either, but like you, seem to just get interested/distracted by new openings/variations!

  • 12 months ago · Quote · #17

    LoveYouSoMuch

    lol, i also have this problem, i change my whole repertoire like every month, just for funzies...
    i think, though, that it doesn't actually hurt me...

    while i'm not a super specialist in anything, in any game i can choose from a wide variety of lines that will likely lead to a nice playable position. that is specially nice if i "know" what my opponent will play... (avoid uncomfortable variations)


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